1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: Riding the Tip of the Bullet

January 20, 2012

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I am totally not a mid-engine motor kind of guy, as plenty of bad things can happen when you package the lump behind you in a street car, but I have to say that I also totally love the feeling of riding on the tip of the bullet.

You see everything ahead and the view seems to sweep up and over the top of your head, like those moments when you’re trying to get out through the surf line and you duck below the water to see the turbulent barrel of liquid roll past.

Since I’m old, it makes me think of Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 breaking the sound barrier or Steve McQueen’s Porsche 917K speeding down the Mulsanne straight, but everyone else just defaults right to the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars.

This is not by accident, as the following passages from the gorgeous souvenir book given to the first owners of the first-year NSX will tell you.

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This book isn’t mine, but I know a woman who was there at Acura in the beginning. These passages about the design of the canopy tell you all about the jet fighter thing:

“Very early in the process, NSX designers established the cabin-forward theme. This configuration was influenced by the design of high-performance vehicles such as Formula One race cars, fighter aircraft like the F-16 Falcon and unlimited hydroplane race boats. These performance machines all have the control center, or cockpit, located as far forward on the body as possible with the power plant located at the rear. This gives the driver, or pilot, tremendous forward visibility and the ability to react early to the changing environment….

“The exterior designers felt it was important that the canopy effect be enhanced in a visual manner. To achieve this, the roof and pillars are painted black. This serves to clearly establish the separation between canopy and body and gives the greenhouse a lighter, more airy look than is found in traditional mid-engine exotics….

“A by-product of the cabin-forward theme was the creation of a greenhouse, which evokes the functional shape of a fighter aircraft canopy. The purpose was to give the driver enhanced visibility in all directions. While many mid-engine exotics have very thick rear pillars, the pillars of the NSX are slim, with a very efficient but strong design that both enhances visibility and provides excellent occupant protection with a strong structural cabin roof. What the designers accomplished was the creation of an intimacy between the driver, the NSX and the moving landscape.”

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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